A new report finds the recession has widened the effects of deprivation, away from being dominated by single-parent families.
The latest phase of the ESRI’s Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal study has been released, which is following nearly 20,000 Irish children through their lives.
It finds that before the economic bust, 42% of the poorest families had two parents, and that rose to two thirds during the recession.
That meant just one third of the most vulnerable were single-parent households.
The report identifies the need for a range of supports, in areas like childcare, employment, income support and education.
The Children’s Minister, James Reilly, says the economy is now improving.
He said: "It's not surprising we have 300,000 people losing their jobs up until 2012, but I mean I think the fact that the economy is recovering and that people are getting jobs, will help that.
"But there is more to be done on childcare, particularly the cost of childcare.
"Every euro spent on children under the age of three brings about the biggest return and the better outcome for children."
The Growing Up in Ireland study involves two cohorts of children.
The 2008 cohort of 11,134 children was recruited into the study at nine months of age. The 1998 cohort of 8,568 children was recruited into the Study at nine years of age.
There was a dramatic increase in economic vulnerability for families in both cohorts - from 15% to 25% for the ‘98 cohort and from 19% to 25% for the ‘08 cohort.
The proportion of families lacking one or more basic goods or services rose from 21% to 30% for the’08 Cohort and from 14% to 29% for the ’98 Cohort.
The study also showed that the proportion of families moving into economic vulnerability was higher than the proportion leaving economic vulnerability.
In the ’08 Cohort, 12% of families were not economically vulnerable between September 2007 and early 2008 but had become so between August 2011 and March 2012. Only 5% of families moved in the opposite direction, out of economic vulnerability. The corresponding figures for the '98 Cohort were 15% of families moving into and 5% exiting economic vulnerability.
Persistent vulnerability was more strongly associated with family type and lower levels of education than was temporary vulnerability.
In both cohorts, a significant group of families was economically vulnerable between September 2007 and early 2008, and also between August 2011 and March 2012 - 14% of the ’08 Cohort and 10% of the ’98 Cohort.
The report’s co-author, Dr Dorothy Watson of the ESRI said: "The results allow us to see that there have been important changes over time in the composition of economically vulnerable families. Because of the recession, many economically vulnerable families no longer fit the traditional profile of poor families.
"The findings point to the need for a broader set of policies to meet the needs of economically vulnerable families, going beyond income support to include supports for employment and childcare as well."